Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

Why the European Commission will not star in the Spanish TV rights Telenovela. By Ben Van Rompuy and Oskar van Maren

The selling of media rights is currently a hot topic in European football. Last week, the English Premier League cashed in around 7 billion Euros for the sale of its live domestic media rights (2016 to 2019) – once again a 70 percent increase in comparison to the previous tender. This means that even the bottom club in the Premier League will receive approximately €130 million while the champions can expect well over €200 million per season.

The Premier League’s new deal has already led the President of the Spanish National Professional Football League (LNFP), Javier Tebas, to express his concerns that this could see La Liga lose its position as one of Europe’s leading leagues. He reiterated that establishing a centralised sales model in Spain is of utmost importance, if not long overdue.

Concrete plans to reintroduce a system of joint selling for the media rights of the Primera División, Segunda División A, and la Copa del Rey by means of a Royal Decree were already announced two years ago. The road has surely been long and bumpy. The draft Decree is finally on the table, but now it misses political approval. All the parties involved are blaming each other for the current failure: the LNFP blames the Sport Governmental Council for Sport (CSD) for not taking the lead; the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) is arguing that the Federation and non-professional football entities should receive more money and that it should have a stronger say in the matter in accordance with the FIFA Statutes;  and there are widespread rumours that the two big earners, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, are actively lobbying to prevent the Royal Decree of actually being adopted.

To keep the soap opera drama flowing,  on 30 December 2014, FASFE (an organisation consisting of groups of fans, club members, and minority shareholders of several Spanish professional football clubs) and the International Soccer Centre (a movement that aims to obtain more balanced and transparent football and basketball competitions in Spain) filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission against the LNFP. They argue that the current system of individual selling of LNFP media rights, with unequal shares of revenue widening the gap between clubs, violates EU competition law.



The 2014 Dortmund judgment: what potential for a follow-on class action? By Zygimantas Juska

Class actions are among the most powerful legal tools available in the US to enforce competition rules. With more than 75 years of experience, the American system offers valuable lessons about the benefits and drawbacks of class actions for private enforcement in competition law. Once believed of as only a US phenomenon, class actions are slowly becoming reality in the EU. After the adoption of the Directive on damages actions in November 2014, the legislative initiative in collective redress (which could prescribe a form of class actions) is expected in 2017.[1] Some pro-active Member States have already taken steps to introduce class actions in some fashion, like, for example, Germany.

What is a class action? It is a lawsuit that allows many similar legal claims with a common interest to be bundled into a single court action. Class actions facilitate access to justice for potential claimants, strengthen the negotiating power and contribute to the efficient administration of justice. This legal mechanism ensures a possibility to claim cessation of illegal behavior (injunctive relief) or to claim compensation for damage suffered (compensatory relief).  More...

The Pechstein ruling of the OLG München - A Rough Translation

The Pechstein decision of the Oberlandesgericht of Munich is “ground-breaking”, “earth-shaking”, “revolutionary”, name it. It was the outmost duty of a “German-reading” sports lawyer to translate it as fast as possible in order to make it available for the sports law community at large (Disclaimer: This is not an official translation and I am no certified legal translator). Below you will find the rough translation of the ruling (the full German text is available here), it is omitting solely the parts, which are of no direct interest to international sports law.

The future of CAS is in the balance and this ruling should trigger some serious rethinking of the institutional set-up that underpins it. As you will see, the ruling is not destructive, the Court is rather favourable to the function of CAS in the sporting context, but it requires a fundamental institutional reshuffling. It also offers a fruitful legal strategy to challenge CAS awards that could be used in front of any national court of the EU as it is based on reasoning analogically applicable to article 102 TFEU (on abuse of a dominant position), which is valid across the EU’s territory.

Enjoy the read! 


PS: The translation can also be downloaded at


From Veerpalu to Lalluka: ‘one step forward, two steps back’ for CAS in dealing with Human Growth Hormone tests (by Thalia Diathesopoulou)

In autumn 2011, the Finnish cross-country skier Juha Lalluka, known as a “lone-wolf” because of his training habit, showed an adverse analytical finding with regard to human growth hormone (hGH). The timing was ideal. As the FINADA Supervisory Body in view of the A and B positive samples initiated disciplinary proceedings against Lalluka for violation of anti-doping rules, the Veerpalu case was pending before the CAS. At the athlete’s request, the Supervisory Board postponed the proceedings until the CAS rendered the award in the Veerpalu case. Indeed, on 25 March 2013, the CAS shook the anti-doping order: it cleared Andrus Veerpalu of an anti-doping rule violation for recombinant hGH (rhGH) on the grounds that the decision limits set by WADA to define the ratio beyond which the laboratories should report the presence of rhGH had not proven scientifically reliable.

The Veerpalu precedent has become a rallying flag for athletes suspected of use of hGH and confirmed some concerns raised about the application of the hGH test. Not surprisingly, Sinkewitz and Lallukka followed the road that Veerpalu paved and sought to overturn their doping ban by alleging the scientific unreliability of the hGH decisions limits. Without success, however. With the full text of the CAS award on the Lallukka case released a few weeks ago[1] and the new rules of the 2015 WADA Code coming into force, we grasp the opportunity to outline the ambiguous approach of CAS on the validity of the hGH test. In short: Should the Veerpalu case and its claim that doping sanctions should rely on scientifically well founded assessments be considered as a fundamental precedent or as a mere exception? More...

State Aid and Sport: does anyone really care about rugby? By Beverley Williamson

There has been a lot of Commission interest in potential state aid to professional football clubs in various Member States.  The huge sums of money involved are arguably an important factor in this interest and conversely, is perhaps the reason why state aid in rugby union is not such a concern. But whilst the sums of money may pale into comparison to those of professional football, the implications for the sport are potentially no less serious.

At the end of the 2012/2013 season, Biarritz Olympique (Biarritz) were relegated from the elite of French Rugby Union, the Top 14 to the Pro D2.  By the skin of their teeth, and as a result of an injection of cash from the local council (which amounted to 400,000€), they were spared administrative relegation to the amateur league below, the Fédérale 1, which would have occurred as a result of the financial state of the club.More...

State aid in Croatia and the Dinamo Zagreb case


The year 2015 promises to be crucial, and possibly revolutionary, for State aid in football. The European Commission is taking its time in concluding its formal investigations into alleged State aid granted to five Dutch clubs and several Spanish clubs, including Valencia CF and Real Madrid, but the final decisions are due for 2015.

A few months ago, the Commission also received a set of fresh State aid complaints originating from the EU’s newest Member State Croatia. The complaints were launched by a group of minority shareholders of the Croatian football club Hajduk Split, who call themselves Naš Hajduk. According to Naš Hajduk, Hajduk Split’s eternal rival, GNK Dinamo Zagreb, has received more than 30 million Euros in unlawful aid by the city of Zagreb since 2006.More...

“The Odds of Match Fixing – Facts & Figures on the integrity risk of certain sports bets”. By Ben Van Rompuy

Media reports and interested stakeholders often suggest that certain types of sports bets would significantly increase the risks of match fixing occurring. These concerns also surface in policy discussions at both the national and European level. Frequently calls are made to prohibit the supply of “risky” sports bets as a means to preserve the integrity of sports competitions.

Questions about the appropriateness of imposing such limitations on the regulated sports betting, however, still linger. The lack of access to systematic empirical evidence on betting-related match fixing has so far limited the capacity of academic research to make a proper risk assessment of certain types of sports bets. 

The ASSER International Sports Law Centre has conducted the first-ever study that assesses the integrity risks of certain sports bets on the basis of quantitative empirical evidence. 

We uniquely obtained access to key statistics from Sportradar’s Fraud Detection System (FDS). A five-year dataset of football matches worldwide, which the FDS identified as likely to have been targeted by match fixers, enabled us to observe patterns and correlations with certain types of sports bets. In addition, representative samples of football bets placed with sports betting operator Betfair were collected and analysed. 

The results presented in this report, which challenge several claims about the alleged risks generated by certain types of sports bets, hope to inform policy makers about the cost-effectiveness of imposing limits on the regulated sports betting offer.More...

The Pechstein ruling of the Oberlandesgericht München - Time for a new reform of CAS?

Editor's note (13 July 2015): We (Ben Van Rompuy and I) have just published on SSRN an article on the Pechstein ruling of the OLG. It is available at Feel free to download it and to share any feedback with us!

On 15 January 2015, the earth must have been shaking under the offices of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne when the Oberlandesgericht München announced its decision in the Pechstein case. If not entirely unpredictable, the decision went very far (further than the first instance) in eroding the legal foundations on which sports arbitration rests. It is improbable (though not impossible) that the highest German civil court, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), which will most likely be called to pronounce itself in the matter, will entirely dismiss the reasoning of the Oberlandesgericht. This blogpost is a first examination of the legal arguments used (Disclaimer: it is based only on the official press release, the full text of the ruling will be published in the coming months).More...

In blood we trust? The Kreuziger Biological Passport Case. By Thalia Diathesopoulou

Over the last twenty years, professional cycling has developed the reputation of one of the “most drug soaked sports in the world”.[1] This should not come as a surprise. The sport’s integrity has plummeted down due to an unprecedented succession of doping scandals. La crème de la crème of professional cyclists has been involved in doping incidents including Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Alejandro Valverde and Lance Armstrong. The once prestigious Tour de France has been stigmatized as a race of “pharmacological feat, not a physical one”.[2]

In view of these overwhelming shadows, in 2008, the International Cycling Union (UCI), in cooperation with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took a leap in the fight against doping. It became the first International Sports Federation to implement a radical new anti-doping program known as the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).[3] More...

A Question of (dis)Proportion: The CAS Award in the Luis Suarez Biting Saga

The summer saga surrounding Luis Suarez’s vampire instincts is long forgotten, even though it might still play a role in his surprisingly muted football debut in FC Barcelona’s magic triangle. However, the full text of the CAS award in the Suarez case has recently be made available on CAS’s website and we want to grasp this opportunity to offer a close reading of its holdings. In this regard, one has to keep in mind that “the object of the appeal is not to request the complete annulment of the sanction imposed on the Player” (par.33). Instead, Suarez and Barcelona were seeking to reduce the sanction imposed by FIFA. In their eyes, the four-month ban handed out by FIFA extending to all football-related activities and to the access to football stadiums was excessive and disproportionate. Accordingly, the case offered a great opportunity for CAS to discuss and analyse the proportionality of disciplinary sanctions based on the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FIFA DC).  More...

Asser International Sports Law Blog | The Court of Arbitration for Sport after Pechstein: Reform or Revolution?

Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

The Court of Arbitration for Sport after Pechstein: Reform or Revolution?

The Pechstein ruling of the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) München rocked the sports arbitration world earlier this year (see our initial commentary of the decision here and a longer version here). The decision has been appealed to the German Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), the highest German civil court, and the final word on the matter is not expected before 2016. In any event, the case has the merit of putting a long-overdue reform of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) back on the agenda. The last notable reform of the structure and functioning of the CAS dates back to 1994, and was already triggered by a court ruling, namely the famous Gundel case of the Swiss Federal Tribunal (SFT). Since then, the role of the CAS has shifted and its practical significance has radically changed (the growth of CAS’s caseload has been exponential). It has become the most visible arbitration court in Switzerland in terms of the number of awards appealed to the SFT, but more importantly it deals with all the high-profile disputes that arise in global sport: think, for instance, of Pistorius, the recent Dutee Chand decision or the upcoming FIFA elections.

In response to the Pechstein ruling, the CAS issued a press release claiming “that the findings of the Munich Appeals Court [the OLG] are based on the CAS rules and organization in force in 2009, when Claudia Pechstein appealed before CAS, and do not take into account the changes leading to the current organization, with amended procedural rules regarding the nomination of arbitrators, development of the legal aid program and the appointment of new ICAS Members not active in or connected to sports-bodies”. The CAS administration implied that the decision would have been different if the OLG had taken into account the current rules. This is a slightly misleading statement. The OLG’s reasoning as to the CAS’s lack of independence was based on various features of CAS procedure that are still in place today, most notably the composition of the CAS governing body: the International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS). In the same press release, the CAS emphasizes that “[i]t is always prepared to listen and analyze the requests and suggestions of its potential users i.e. the athletes, sports federations and other sports entities, in order to continue its development with appropriate reforms”. If it is to avoid a true revolution targeting (and potentially destroying) CAS arbitration, it should better put its money where its mouth is and urgently initiate an inclusive and participative reform procedure. Such a reform process ought to bring to the table not only the Sports Governing Bodies (SGBs), as was the case after the Gundel ruling, but also representatives of athletes and public authorities.

This long blog post aims at providing a blueprint to start thinking about how to reform the CAS. It will highlight the key issues that need to be discussed and make 10 preliminary (and necessarily incomplete) proposals. Three pillars for a reform of CAS are identified: independence, transparency and access to justice.


I.               Independence

The Pechstein ruling of the OLG focuses mainly on the question of the independence of the CAS (and chiefly the ICAS). This is not a new matter of concern. Over the years, there has been mounting academic scholarship putting this independence into doubt[1]. However, the SFT sided with the CAS and shielded it from challenges, until the OLG München begged to differ. In fact, ensuring independence ought to be the fundamental objective of any future reform of the CAS. In my view, this is not so much about securing the institution’s financial independence from the SGBs, nor should the CAS’s financial reliance on the SGBs be seen as a big threat to its independence, as long as its management is truly independent. Indeed, it is the SGBs’ duty, in the interest of sports, to finance the CAS via a form of tax on their revenues.  The true issues to be tackled in relation to independence arise from the composition of the ICAS, the identity and role of the President of the CAS Appeals Division and the closed list of arbitrators.

a.    Independence of ICAS

The ICAS is the body in charge of taking the most significant institutional decisions in the life of the CAS. It decides, in particular, who gets to be a CAS arbitrator[2], who gets to be the president of the CAS appeal division[3], and who gets to be the secretary general of the CAS[4]. It also rules on challenges to the independence of arbitrators[5]. In short, the ICAS decides all the main institutional matters which have a decisive influence on the broader legal orientations of the CAS and its jurisprudence. This powerful body, sitting quietly at the top of the CAS, is all but independent. Three fifths of its current members are selected by the SGBs, and that group, in turn, selects the remaining two fifths of the members[6]. It is natural that the SGBs would pick individuals who share their views on the application of their rules and more broadly their mindset in relation to the management of sports. Thus, many ICAS members have had (or still have) a career inside national and international SGBs, and several among them have acted as legal advisors to the SGBs[7]. The President of the ICAS himself, John Coates, is the Vice-president of the IOC. Can you imagine, for example, the Vice-president of the United States presiding at the same time over the Supreme Court? How can such a homogenous group of people be deemed independent from the collective interest and views of the members of the Olympic movement? Simply put, it can’t and it isn’t. This is the crux of the OLG’s decision in Pechstein and it is extremely difficult not to be convinced by it. 

However, and this is a legitimate question, how should we then select ICAS members? There are in my view two solutions that ideally should be combined. On the one hand, a slight change should be made to the CAS statutes, imposing that only 4 of the ICAS members shall be selected by the SGBs, while the next 4 shall be selected by representatives of the athletes (at a specific conference or assembly including, for example, FIFPro, UNI World Athletes, EU Athletes, and the IOC Athletes' Commission), and the final 12 members shall be picked by the first 8. By empowering athlete representatives to appoint half of the first 8 members of ICAS, the CAS would automatically ensure the independence and impartiality of the additional 12 (neutral) ICAS members, who would still have the upper hand on the two partisan fractions inside ICAS. On the other hand, it is necessary to impose stringent individual requirements of independence for all ICAS members. They should both fulfill qualitative requirements (i.e. show some legal credentials) and be subjected to strict conflicts of interests restrictions (i.e. ICAS members must sever all personal, contractual and financial ties with SGBs and athlete representatives). In short, no IOC or FIFPro member should be able to have a seat at the ICAS’s table. This is a preliminary proposal and other analogical solutions can be devised. It aims at tackling the two core challenges for the independence of ICAS: its selection procedure and the individual independence of its members.

Recommendation 1: Change the selection procedure for ICAS members, with SGBs to select 4 members, athletes’ representatives to select 4 other members, and those 8 members together jointly selecting the remaining 12 members.

Recommendation 2: Impose a strict regime governing conflicts of interest for ICAS members. ICAS members should forego all their mandates within the SGBs and sever all contractual and other ties susceptible of giving rise to a conflict of interest.


b.    Independence of the President of the Appeals Division

The Appeals Division of the CAS is for our purposes (as well as in quantitative terms) the only one that truly matters. Indeed, it deals with all the disputes related to doping and transfer cases, but also those arising from disciplinary sanctions imposed by the SGBs and their political decisions. In short, the appeals procedure transforms the CAS in the ‘Supreme Court of World Sport’ as the saying goes. In Pechstein, the OLG was particularly troubled with the way in which the president of each appeal panel is selected. Basically, as provided by article R54 of the CAS Code[8], the president of the Appeals Division decides who is to be the president of a specific appeal panel. He or she will consult the arbitrators nominated by the parties, but their suggestions are not binding. In fact, especially when they disagree, the Division President is the one that decides who is to chair the panel, and, thus, who is most likely to tilt the balance in one direction or another. Consequently, the President of the Appeals Division occupies probably the most important and powerful position at the CAS. You wouldn’t guess who was occupying this position until 2013…Thomas Bach, the current IOC President. The current holder is Ms. Corinne Schmidhauser, herself a President of Antidoping Switzerland and a member of the Legal Committee of FIS (Fédération Internationale de Ski). Athletes challenging an anti-doping decision cannot be expected to believe in the independence of a panel which has been composed, to a significant (decisive) extent, by someone so directly involved in the anti-doping fight and thus necessarily and inevitably partisan of the work done by anti-doping authorities.

The position of head of the CAS Appeals Division is so crucial, that it cannot be occupied by anybody who is closely connected to any one side of the sporting world. The designation process must ensure that the person selected is universally perceived as independent and impartial. Only by ensuring that he or she has no direct and personal, contractual or financial links with the SGBs can the CAS preserve its independence and legitimacy.

Recommendation 3: Impose a regime of incompatibilities to the President of the Appeals Division. He or she must accept to forego all his or her mandates within the SGBs and sever all contractual ties susceptible of giving rise to a conflict of interest.

c.     Independence of individual arbitrators

The final, most often discussed, yet in my view less important, point concerns the independence of individual CAS arbitrators. The OLG München pointed out that it is not against a closed list of CAS arbitrators. However, the fact that under the current procedures the arbitrators are selected by a structurally biased ICAS was seen as highly problematic. Even more so due to the lack of transparency as to who had proposed the nomination to the CAS under the pre-2010 rules. Closed lists of arbitrators are a relatively rare occurrence in international arbitration, nonetheless it does make sense to introduce a qualitative limit to who is deemed sufficiently qualified to become an arbitrator in a specific sector, where disputes can raise rather complex “technical” or scientific issues, such as sport (think of some anti-doping cases). This is especially so because CAS arbitration, contrary to commercial arbitration, is mandatory in essence and aims more at providing legal certainty in the global sports sector than at solving individual disputes. This calls for enhanced stability in the judicial personnel. In this regard, some have suggested providing tenure and a fixed wage to CAS arbitrators[9]. This might be difficult to put in place logistically, at least for now, though it is not necessarily a bad idea in the long run. 

Be that as it may, implementing such measures would still not exonerate the CAS from having to deal with some of the acute problems that arise regarding the independence of CAS arbitrators included on the list. In particular, the phenomenon of so-called repeat arbitrators, ie arbitrators who are nominated several times by the same party, poses a real danger. In such cases, the party that is frequently involved in disputes before the CAS has an edge over the other party because it knows which arbitrator is more susceptible to favor its cause. One way to avoid this bias would be to clearly limit the number of times an arbitrator can be selected by a specific party. Moreover, to put the parties on an equal stand, the CAS would need to publish detailed information on arbitrators’ past nominations (in this regard, see also point II.a. below). Finally, the ICAS should exercise a more stringent standard of control over the independence of individual arbitrators in case of challenge. Nevertheless, if the list is drawn by an independent ICAS and the parties have the possibility to know better the record of each arbitrator and have a true ability to challenge them in case of doubt, the existence of a closed list does not seem to be as such a structural limitation to the independence of the CAS.

Recommendation 4: Limit the number of times an arbitrator can be nominated by a specific party (e.g. 5 times during his or her four-year mandate).

Recommendation 5: CAS to provide detailed information on each arbitrator’s past nominations.

Recommendation 6: ICAS to exercise a more stringent control over the independence and impartiality of CAS arbitrators in case of challenge.


II.             Transparency

The OLG in Pechstein did not tackle the question of the lack of transparency of the CAS. Yet, some authors have insisted that as the jurisdiction of CAS is mandatory for athletes wanting to participate in international competitions (as the Olympic Games or, as in Pechstein’s case, the world championships) its processes should abide by the standards of the European Convention of Human Rights[10]. In this regard, the independence of the arbitrators is important, but also the transparency of the judicial process.

a.    Information on arbitrators

First, as discussed above, there is a lack of transparency as far as the arbitrators are concerned. The list of CAS arbitrators on the CAS website gives too little substantial information for parties to be comprehensively informed on the arbitrators’ personal jurisprudential record. Here again, due to the phenomena of repeat-players, information asymmetries are indirectly promoted. The parties, mainly SGBs, which have been involved in many CAS arbitration proceedings will typically dispose of an internal database tracking the different positions of CAS arbitrators as they have access to the raw data. The majority of athletes, who are not supported by a strong legal team, will be unable to rely on the same knowledge and will necessarily be in an unfavorable position compared to the SGBs. This calls for full transparency regarding the profile and record of each CAS arbitrator. Similarly, the CAS lacks mandatory disclosure rules regarding the arbitrators’ biographical details[11]. Each arbitrator should have to disclose, in the information included on the CAS website, their past (for example over the last 5 years) and/or present contractual relationships, or other significant personal or financial ties with SGBs and any other relevant stakeholder in sport.

Recommendation 7: CAS to impose more stringent ex ante disclosure rules imposing that each CAS arbitrator discloses on the CAS website all present and past (previous 5 years) contractual links with SGBs and other sport stakeholders.


b.    Publication of CAS awards

What is even more important, also because it would enable the parties and external observers to better check the independence and evaluate the track record of arbitrators, is the systematic publication of CAS awards. Nowadays, the CAS publishes only a limited sample of all the awards rendered by the Appeals Division. Indeed, article R59 CAS Code provides that “[t]he award, a summary and/or a press release setting forth the results of the proceedings shall be made public by CAS, unless both parties agree that they should remain confidential”. It is true that compared to commercial arbitration the CAS is relatively transparent. Yet, commercial arbitration is the wrong benchmark, as the CAS’s function is more akin to that of a court of law. The secrecy might be acceptable, though it remains hotly debated, when two multinationals decide to settle their dispute via arbitration. This state of affairs is, however, totally unsatisfactory in the context of a forced arbitration process. CAS draws its legitimacy from the necessity to provide a global level playing field to settle disputes arising out of international sport. This might be a valid justification to impose the global jurisdiction of the CAS, but in return it must also entail that CAS has the duty to publish all the decisions it renders. This, in fact, could be very easily achieved by amending article R59 CAS Code and by simply deleting its final sentence indicating that the award is published “unless both parties agree that they should remain confidential”.

The full publication of CAS awards is a necessity to secure the equality of arms of the parties to CAS arbitration. Indeed, in the current situation, some actors, often SGBs, have access to much greater pools of CAS awards, which they can refer to, thus improving their chances of prevailing. In contrast the general public and the athletes are unable to critically assess and use the many awards that remain unpublished and therefore inaccessible. A transparent access to all appeal awards is a vital question of procedural justice, and a crucial development in order to subject the CAS and its judicial work to the critical scrutiny of the global public sphere.

Recommendation 8: CAS to systematically publish on its website all the CAS awards rendered following the appeal procedure.


c.     Publication of administrative documents

The CAS is extremely reluctant to publish internal administrative material. In other words, nobody knows precisely the financial records of the CAS or the precise content of the discussions happening inside the ICAS. This is not compatible with the very public function played by the CAS in global sports. With great power, comes great responsibility. Transparency, as a tool serving enhanced public scrutiny, is a key element of CAS’s accountability. Thus, it is important that the CAS adopts transparent administrative practices. It should, for example, publish the minutes of the ICAS meetings and its annual reports.

Recommendation 9: CAS to systematically publish on its website all the key administrative documents (such as the minutes of ICAS meetings and its annual reports)


III.           Access to Justice

Finally, and this is largely overlooked by many, the CAS has a problem with access to justice[12]. CAS proceedings are too expensive for many athletes who are not part of the 1% elite of superstars. Article R64.1 CAS Code provides that « [u]pon filing of the request/statement of appeal, the Claimant/Appellant shall pay a non-refundable Court Office fee of Swiss francs 1,000 »[13]. Moreover, the parties must pay an advance on the costs of arbitration and bear the costs of their own witnesses, experts and interpreters[14]. Unless the dispute involves a decision by an international federation in disciplinary matters[15], an appellant will have to bear the costs of the arbitration process, usually several thousands Swiss Francs. Athletes end up in a double bind: they are often constrained to go to the CAS by a mandatory arbitration clause, but cannot afford to do so properly. In recent years, the CAS has started to tackle the issue by introducing two mechanisms: a pro-bono list of CAS lawyers and a procedure granting legal aid to athletes in financial hardship. These steps certainly go in the right direction, but as some with hands-on experience have pointed out[16], they are still too small and uncertain. Athletes, especially in doping cases, are faced with disputes which require costly scientific investigations, experts must be recruited etc. Thus, they can be forced to waive their access to the national courts (and state legal aid), only if the CAS provides sufficient financial means for them to dispose of a fair chance to present their case, ie to “have their day in the CAS”. It is again a question of equality of arms; SGBs are way richer and enjoy substantial economies of scale thanks to their repeat player status. This potential inequality before sporting justice runs counter to the very essence of a fair process, and should be remedied. This will be possible only if the SGBs which provide for CAS arbitration in their regulations accept to take on a larger share of the costs of CAS proceedings, for instance by paying a levy corresponding to a specific share of their revenues.

Recommendation 10: CAS to fund, through a levy on the SGBs, a more comprehensive and accessible legal aid scheme for appellants to the CAS that lack sufficient financial resources.



Global sport is at a turning point, this time is different, it is truly about “reform or revolution”. As FIFA and IAAF sink more and more into chaos, it becomes clear that one of the sporting challenges of the 21st century will be to democratize and check the massive transnational organizations fuelled by TV and sponsoring money that govern global sport. To this end, the CAS has a key role to play. For example, it will most probably be reviewing the ban imposed by the FIFA Ethics Committee on Michel Platini. More generally, the CAS could become a sort of global constitutional court for sport, reviewing the legislative and administrative decisions of the SGBs. However, this metamorphosis will be realistic only if CAS itself is reformed to match the level of independence, transparency and accessibility needed to ensure its legitimating function. This is exactly the spirit of good governance endorsed by the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 that should guide the whole Olympic movement in the coming years.

Now is not the time for the CAS to put its head in the sand and pray for the BGH to overrule the OLG in the Pechstein case. Sure, that might happen. Yet, the BGH cannot magically erase the fundamental questions that have been raised by the lower courts as the case made its way into its docket. It will only be a matter of time for those same questions to pop up again in another judicial forum (be it the ECHR or the CJEU). The independence of ICAS, and therefore of the CAS, is simply too fragile and urgently needs to be buttressed. Let’s not just wait, comme si de rien n’était, for the revolution to come. Now is the time for all interested parties (CAS, SGBs, athletes, public authorities) to come together and shape a comprehensive reform of the CAS that must be guided by the will to ensure a stronger independence, greater transparency and broader access to justice.

[1] See ten years ago A. Rigozzi, L’arbitrage international en matière de sport, Helbing & Lichtenhahn, Basel, 2005; pp. 289-300 and D. Yi, ‘Turning Medals into Metal : Evaluating the Court of Arbitration of sport as an international tribunal’, 6 Asper Rev. Int’l Bus. & Trade L. 289, 2006. More recently, A. Vaitiekunas, The Court of Arbitration for Sport : Law-Making and the Question of Independence, Stämpfli Verlag, Berne, 2014 and P. Zen-Ruffinen, ‘La nécessaire réforme du Tribunal Arbitral du Sport’ in A. Rigozzi and al (eds), Citius, altius, fortius : mélanges en l'honneur de Denis Oswald, Helbing & Lichtenhahn, Basel, 2012, pp. 555-567.

[2] Article S6 para 3 CAS Code (Statutes of ICAS and CAS).

[3] Article S6 para 2 CAS Code.

[4] Article S6 para 6 CAS Code.

[5] Article S6 para 4 CAS Code.

[6] See Article S4 CAS Code :
ICAS is composed of twenty members, experienced jurists appointed in the following manner :

1.     four members are appointed by the International Federations (IFs), viz. three by the Association of Summer Olympic IFs (ASOIF) and one by the Association of the Winter Olympic IFs (AIOWF), chosen from within or outside their membership;

2.     four members are appointed by the Association of the National Olympic Committees (ANOC), chosen from within or outside its membership;

3.     four members are appointed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), chosen from within or outside its membership;

4.     four members are appointed by the twelve members of ICAS listed above, after appropriate consultation with a view to safeguarding the interests of the athletes;

5.     four members are appointed by the sixteen members of ICAS listed above, chosen from among personalities independent of the bodies designating the other members of the ICAS.

[7] In the current ICAS, 13 (out of 20) members have (or had) direct ties to SGBs if you trust their official bios: Abdullah Al Hayyan, Tjasa Andrée-Prosenc, Patrick Baumann, Scott Blackmun, Alexandra Brilliantova, John D. Coates, Moya Dodd, Ivo Eusebio, Michael B. Lenard, Göran Petersson, Richard W. Pound, Corinne Schmidhauser, Tricia C.M. Smith. None of the 20 has any ties with athletes’ representative organisations.

[8] Article R54 CAS Code stipulates:

“If three arbitrators are to be appointed, the President of the Division shall appoint the President of the Panel following nomination of the arbitrator by the Respondent and after having consulted the arbitrators.”

[9] A. Vaitiekunas, The Court of Arbitration for Sport: Law-Making and the Question of Independence, Stämpfli Verlag, Berne, 2014, p. 199.

[10] R. Muresan and N. Korff, ‘Sportschiedsgerichtsbarkeit: Wie weiter nach dem « Pechstein-Urteil » des Landgerichts München?’, Causa Sport 3/2014, pp. 199-211.

[11] Article R33 CAS Code only stipulates that «Every arbitrator shall be and remain impartial and independent of the parties and shall immediately disclose any circumstances which may affect his independence with respect to any of the parties».

[12] But not by all see A. Rigozzi & F. Robert-Tissot, ‘"Consent" in Sports Arbitration: Its Multiple Aspects’, E. Geisinger & E. Trabaldo de Mestral (eds), Sports Arbitration: A Coach for other players?, ASA Special Series No. 41, pp. 59-95, at 73-81.

[13] This is true also in case of an appeal against decisions issued by international federations in disciplinary matters, see article R65.2 CAS Code.

[14] See article R64.2 and R64.3 CAS Code.

[15] See article R65 CAS Code.

[16] A. Rigozzi & F. Robert-Tissot, ‘"Consent" in Sports Arbitration: Its Multiple Aspects’, E. Geisinger & E. Trabaldo de Mestral (eds), Sports Arbitration: A Coach for other players?, ASA Special Series No. 41, pp. 59-95, at 73-81.

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Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

ASSER Exclusive! Interview with Charles “Chuck” Blazer by Piotr Drabik

Editor’s note: Chuck Blazer declined our official interview request but thanks to some trusted sources (the FIFA indictment and Chuck’s testimony) we have reconstructed his likely answers. This is a fictional interview. Any resemblance with real facts is purely coincidental.

Mr Blazer, thank you for agreeing to this interview, especially considering the circumstances. How are you doing?

I am facing ten charges concerning, among others, conspiracy to corrupt and money laundering. But apart from that, I am doing great (laughs)!


It is good to know that you have not lost your spirit. And since you’ve been involved in football, or as you call it soccer, for years could you please first tell us what was your career at FIFA and its affiliates like?

Let me see… Starting from the 1990s I was employed by and associated with FIFA and one of its constituent confederations, namely the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). At various times, I also served as a member of several FIFA standing committees, including the marketing and television committee. As CONCACAF’s general secretary, a position I proudly held for 21 years, I was responsible, among many other things, for negotiations concerning media and sponsorship rights. From 1997 to 2013 I also served at FIFA’s executive committee where I participated in the selection process of the host countries for the World Cup tournaments. Those years at the helm of world soccer were truly amazing years of travel and hard work mainly for the good of the beautiful game. I might add that I even managed to document some of my voyages on my blog. I initially called it “Travels with Chuck Blazer” but Vladimir (Putin) convinced me to change the name to “Travels with Chuck Blazer and his Friends”. You should check it out.


Financial Fair Play: Lessons from the 2014 and 2015 settlement practice of UEFA. By Luis Torres

UEFA announced on 8 May that it had entered into Financial Fair Play settlement agreements with 10 European football clubs. Together with the four other agreements made in February 2015, this brings the total to 14 FFP settlements for 2015 and 23 since UEFA adopted modifications in its Procedural rules and allowed settlements agreements to be made between the Clubs and the Chief Investigator of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB).[1] 

In the two years during which UEFA’s FFP regulations have been truly up and running we have witnessed the centrality taken by the settlement procedure in their enforcement. It is extremely rare for a club to be referred to the FFP adjudication chamber. In fact, only the case regarding Dynamo Moscow has been referred to the adjudication chamber. Thus, having a close look at the settlement practice of UEFA is crucial to gaining a good understanding of the functioning of FFP. Hence, this blog offers a detailed analysis of this year’s settlement agreements and compares them with last year’s settlements. More...

Book Review: Reforming FIFA, or Not

Editor’s note: This short book review will be published in a different format in the International Sports Law Journal, due to its timeliness we decided to reproduce it here. 

Reforming FIFA, or Not

 Antoine Duval

Book Review: Mark Pieth (ed.), Reforming FIFA, Dike Verlag, St. Gallen, 2014, 28.00 CHF, p.178


This book looks back at the work of the Independence Governance Committee (IGC). This Committee, constituted in 2011, had as primary objective to drive a reform process of FIFA initiated by its President Sepp Blatter. After ordering from the Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth, a report on the state of FIFA’s governance, FIFA decided to mandate him with the leadership of a consulting body composed of a mix of independent experts and football insiders, which would be accompanying and supervising the internal reform process of FIFA. The IGC was officially dissolved at the end of 2013, after completing its mandate. The book is composed of eight chapters, written by former members of the IGC, including former chairman Mark Pieth. In addition to the chapters, it includes the different reports (available here, here and here) submitted by the IGC to FIFA across the years. In the words of Pieth, this account is “fascinating because it gives a hands-on, realistic perspective of the concrete efforts, the achievements and the remaining challenges in the struggle for the reform of this organization [FIFA], avoiding the usual glorification or vilification.”[1] This review will first summarize the core of the account of the FIFA reform process provided by the book, before critically engaging with the outcome of the process and outlining the deficiencies that culminated on 29 May 2015 with the re-election of Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.More...

The Spanish TV Rights Distribution System after the Royal Decree: An Introduction. By Luis Torres

On the first of May 2015, the Spanish Government finally signed the Royal Decree allowing the joint selling of the media rights of the Spanish top two football leagues. The Minister for Sport stated that the Decree will allow clubs to “pay their debts with the social security and the tax authorities and will enable the Spanish teams to compete with the biggest European Leagues in terms of revenues from the sale of media rights”.[1]Although the signing of the Royal Decree was supposed to close a very long debate and discussion between the relevant stakeholders, its aftermath shows that the Telenovela is not entirely over. 

This blog post will first provide the background story to the selling of media rights in Spain. It will, thereafter, analyse the main points of the Royal Decree and outline how the system will work in practice. Finally, the blog will shortly address the current frictions between the Spanish League (LFP) and the Spanish football federation (RFEF).More...

Sport and EU Competition Law: New developments and unfinished business. By Ben Van Rompuy

Editor's note: Ben Van Rompuy, Head of the ASSER International Sports Law Centre, was recently interviewed by LexisNexis UK for their in-house adviser service. With kind permission from LexisNexis we reproduce the interview on our blog in its entirety. 

How does competition law affect the sports sector?  

The application of EU competition law to the sports sector is a fairly recent and still unfolding development. It was only in the mid-1990s, due to the growing commercialization of professional sport, that there emerged a need to address competition issues in relation to, for instance, ticketing arrangements or the sale of media rights.  More...

Is FIFA fixing the prices of intermediaries? An EU competition law analysis - By Georgi Antonov (ASSER Institute)


On 1 April 2015, the new FIFA Regulations on Working with Intermediaries (hereinafter referred as the Regulations) came into force. These Regulations introduced a number of changes as regards the division of competences between FIFA and its members, the national associations. A particularly interesting issue from an EU competition law perspective is the amended Article 7 of the Regulations. Under paragraph 3, which regulates the rules on payments to intermediaries (also previously referred to as ‘agents’), it is recommended that the total amount of remuneration per transaction due to intermediaries either being engaged to act on a player’s or club’s behalf should not exceed 3% of the player’s basic gross income for the entire duration of the relevant employment contract. In the case of transactions due to intermediaries who have been engaged to act on a club’s behalf in order to conclude a transfer agreement, the total amount of remuneration is recommended to not exceed 3% of the eventual transfer fee paid in relation to the relevant transfer of the player.More...

The Impact of the new FIFA Regulations for Intermediaries: A comparative analysis of Brazil, Spain and England. By Luis Torres


Almost a year after their announcement, the new FIFA Regulations on working with Intermediaries (“FIFA Regulations”) came into force on 1 April 2015. Their purpose is to create a more simple and transparent system of regulation of football agents. It should be noted, however, that the new FIFA rules enable every national football association to regulate their own system on players’ intermediaries, provided they respect the compulsory minimum requirements adopted. In an industry that is already cutthroat, it thus remains to be seen whether FIFA’s “deregulation” indeed creates transparency, or whether it is a Pandora’s Box to future regulatory confusion.

This blog post will provide an overview of the new FIFA Regulations on working with intermediaries and especially its minimum requirements. Provided that national associations are encouraged to “draw up regulations that shall incorporate the principles established in these provisions”[1], three different national regulations have been taken as case-studies: the English FA Regulations, the Spanish RFEF Regulations and the Brazilian CBF Regulations. After mapping their main points of convergence and principal differences, the issues that could arise from these regulatory differences shall be analyzed.  More...

Blog Symposium: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified. By Prof. Dr. Christian Duve

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 3: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football.
Day 4: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective. 

Editor’s note: Finally, the last blog of our TPO ban Symposium has arrived! Due to unforeseen circumstances, FIFA had to reconsider presenting its own views on the matter. However, FIFA advised us to contact Prof. Dr. Christian Duve to author the eagerly awaited blog on their behalf. Prof. Dr. Christian Duve is a lawyer and partner with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and an honorary professor at the University of Heidelberg. He has been a CAS arbitrator until 2014. Thus, as planned, we will conclude this symposium with a post defending the compatibility of the TPO ban with EU law. Many thanks to Prof. Dr. Duve for having accepted this last-minute challenge! More...

Blog Symposium: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective. By Daniel Geey

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 3: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football.
Day 5: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified.

Editor's note: In this fourth part of our blog symposium on FIFA's TPO ban Daniel Geey shares his 'UK perspective' on the ban. The English Premier League being one of the first leagues to have outlawed TPO in 2010, Daniel will outline the regulatory steps taken to do so and critically assess them. Daniel is an associate in Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP's Competition and EU Regulatory Law Group. As well as being a famous 'football law' twitterer, he has also published numerous articles and blogs on the subject.


What is Third Party Investment?
In brief Third Party Investment (TPI) in the football industry, is where a football club does not own, or is not entitled to, 100% of the future transfer value of a player that is registered to play for that team. There are numerous models for third party player agreements but the basic premise is that companies, businesses and/or individuals provide football clubs or players with money in return for owning a percentage of a player’s future transfer value. This transfer value is also commonly referred to as a player’s economic rights. There are instances where entities will act as speculators by purchasing a percentage share in a player directly from a club in return for a lump sum that the club can then use as it wishes. More...

Blog Symposium: The Impact of the TPO Ban on South American Football. By Ariel N. Reck

Introduction: FIFA’s TPO ban and its compatibility with EU competition law.
Day 1: FIFA must regulate TPO, not ban it.
Day 2: Third-party entitlement to shares of transfer fees: problems and solutions
Day 4: Third Party Investment from a UK Perspective.
Day 5: Why FIFA's TPO ban is justified.

Editor’s note: Ariel N. Reck is an Argentine lawyer specialized in the football industry. He is a guest professor at ISDE’s Global Executive Master in International Sports Law, at the FIFA CIES Sports law & Management course (Universidad Católica Argentina) and the Universidad Austral Sports Law diploma (Argentina) among other prestigious courses. He is a regular conference speaker and author in the field of sports law.

Being an Argentine lawyer, Ariel will focus on the impact FIFA’s TPO ban will have (and is already having) on South American football.More...